"It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night." - Jeffrey Sinclair
Welcome back to Third Age Thursday, an ongoing feature here at Unfettered Brilliance! Along with Ensley, who's posting the wonderfully-named "Tuesdays with Mollari" over on his blog, these posts are written to keep you up to date on the writing and publication of Dreams Given Form: The Unofficial Companion to the Universe of Babylon 5. Please feel free to comment, re-post, tweet, plus-one, pin, and use all sorts of other ways to pass along the news that a comprehensive Babylon 5 book is in the works with publication ETA sometime in 2016. And remember that you can always search through these posts to find all the "Third Age" posts by using the search feature on the right. Just use "Babylon 5" or "Third Age" as your search term.
Today I want to focus on one particular character – I’ll do this from time to time as the project progresses and Valen knows there’s no shortage of fun, interesting characters to examine on Babylon 5.
For today, let’s take a look at Susan Ivanova. Her character is missing from the pilot movie “The Gathering” – there, the role of the lieutenant commander of Babylon 5 is still played by a female (Tamlyn Tomita) but “Laurel Takashima” was written out of the series when full-scale production began. (Viewers hear that Takashima was recalled to Earth on a classified mission, which freed Tomita to pursue other roles, which she has done with success.) And thus the station became home to a new second-in-command, a strong-willed, smart-as-a-whip Russian Jew named Susan Ivanova (known in Russian as Сюзан Иванова and in Hebrew as סוזן איבנובה).
Now, there are many character arcs on Babylon 5 that I enjoy and that are well worth exploring, but Susan’s dry wit attracted me from the get-go. She’s very well aware of protocol, has a highly-developed sense of duty and honor, and yet is often a tragic figure. (Oh, the weight of that single earring she wears!) She’s also funny, provided her well-timed sense of snark isn’t directed at you, as in her warning to a nosy reporter who’s getting in the way – “Don’t. You’re too young to experience that much pain.” (1.04) And there’s her advice in Season 4 to “Trust Ivanova. Trust yourself. Anyone else? Shoot ‘em.”
And she’s got the absolute best ever answer to one of the key questions that runs throughout Babylon 5 – “Who are you?”
Really, how can you not love her?